07 August 2010

my mount moriah

It's been awhile, my friends. We each traverse such divergent paths now. Since the last post, so much has happened in each of our lives, and so much more is happening. I send this out to you with tremendous humility, knowing that each of you carries her own burdens, is the thick of her own trials, and in each a different way, is walking through her own dark night.

This is mine. I'm not going to go back and edit, because I really don't care right now how this sounds as a piece of writing. I just need to spill and be raw with you.

bathed in love & light // selfportrait by kirsten michelle (2010)

The closer we get to Ewan's birth (in less than 60 days, I'll be 40 weeks pregnant), the more nervous I am becoming. I am waiting for God's provision, and wondering just how down-the-wire it will get before He unleashes His provision. I am ready and waiting.

I feel this morning like a truck has run me over. Last night in bed, my thoughts turned to that not-so-distant point in time, in a future so near it's impossible not to think about -- Ewan's birth and the seeming madness that will follow. I cried and I wept in a soul-deep way and my face shows it this morning. I feel hung over from it. I feel as though I cannot shake this cloak of dread, no matter how lightly it touches my skin.

I mentioned it very briefly in my most recent post here, but the reality is this: if we do not have another source of income by the time Ewan arrives, I will need to return to work much sooner than taking full advantage of my leave would allow. I'm not talking about returning at eight weeks after his birth, or even six -- but two or three at the most. There is no financial way possible for us to keep our apartment, maintain our current financial obligations, and eat without both streams of income. Assuming Ewan arrives around his due date, I will have about two weeks of personal time that I can apply toward my leave, allowing me to have another full paycheck. After that point, I am eligible to apply for six weeks of disability pay at 60% of my current pay. After that, we are on our own. With bills still to pay, with a child recovering from major surgery (and all the medical bills that go with it), we still have to pay my part of our health insurance premiums ... and the list goes on. That 60% is all well and good and in different circumstances, I'm sure that would feel like a godsend. But it's not enough. It's just not enough.

The job market is dismal. James has networked in a variety of circles, he's talked to recruiters, he's had his resume revamped, he's put himself out there on job search sites. The lack of work is not for lack of trying, nor for that matter, for lack of considering options that we hadn't previously considered (everything from fishing to nursing).

Before we became pregnant, it was always our plan (and our hope, our expectation) that James would have work by the time the little bean arrived on the scene, allowing me to stay home. This was the desire of both our hearts, believing it to be God's ideal for the family and as such, our faith that God would make that possible. In the past several months, it became apparent that I'd need to return to work at least briefly to allow maintenance of our benefits. The cost of Ewan's care is likely to reach into the millions, and now is not the time to lose our benefits.

And now it's becoming apparent as we get closer and closer with still no prospects for James's employment that unless something miraculous happens between now and Ewan's birth, I will need to return before my body has had a chance to settle, while (in all likelihood) he's still in the hospital. Said simply, my heart cannot handle this. My heart absolutely CANNOT handle this. It was with enough grief that we realized me returning to work at all seemed inevitable. And now, this. This ugly reality, this double-knife to my heart.

I wonder just how much God expects me to give up, anyway? How much will he demand of my mother's heart while my firstborn lies in the NICU for weeks on end recovering from heart surgery (HEART SURGERY!!) -- am I really supposed to return to work in the thick of that? No time at home at all with my son?!!? I can never get that time back. Is that really what He wants for our family? The thought that God might be asking this of us puts me so far beyond angry and resentful. I am positively furious, in fact, if this is what God is asking us to do.

It made me think of Abraham and Isaac, God asking him to sacrifice his own son, the evidence of the fulfillment of God's promise to an aged man and his wife. Isaac was a miracle, and more than that, he was a promise: many descendants will come from this son. But descendants don't come from a corpse.

I wonder what Abraham went through emotionally when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac -- to take him up Mt Moriah and hold the knife over him. I can imagine a litany of objections rising in his mind instantly, a host of questions. We're told that he reasoned God was able to raise the dead, and so he obeyed.

I wish it was as simple as all that for me. I wish I could reason that way. I want to have the faith, to trust that our needs will be provided for -- but I also am aware of the reality that some kind of plan needs to be in place before this birth happens -- something needs to be in place so we don't get swept up and lost in the chaos of it, so we don't find ourselves facing mounting expenses with no idea as to how to pay them.

I wonder how long I'll have to hold that knife, how close it will have to get to piercing the skin of those I love most in this world before God will stay my hand.

Or will He? Will He stay my hand? I guess that is the real question I have, the real bone I have to pick.

So many other family things are going on the midst of this, too -- Peder and Annie moving away just in time to miss the birth of this child (I know this is not meant to be intentionally hurtful and I know it has nothing to do with us specifically, but I don't mind telling you since I've already told them: the timing totally, completely, and in all respects stinks), and others in my immediate family are each in their own dire places. It's too much. I find myself falling apart already, and really ... we haven't even gotten to the hard part yet.

And so I put this out here in our collective space -- it has acquired some dust I see, but I know you are still here. I appreciate you reading this when I know each of you is in the thick of her own pain, climbing your own mountains and I'm sure, holding knives of your own. We've found encouragement and strength in the collective before -- just like the three who faced Nebuchadnezzer's flames did. I'm hoping maybe we can find that again.